It seems like we’ve been in the car on the road a lot lately. The myriad rules and regs imposed on flying by the TSA and FAA have made it, for us at least, easier to drive to a destination that’s within 5 or so hours than it is to fly to it. By the time you get to the airport an hour or more early, so that the TSA can maul your bags properly and the baggage handlers can mistakenly put them on a flight going to Dulles instead of Dallas, a one hour flight becomes a 2 1/2 hour excursion at the minimum…
and that’s if the plane departs on schedule. Then, even if you and your bags do arrive on time, you still have to rent the car at the other end. Might as well just drive, then at least you’re on your own schedule and won’t lose your luggage, suffer through the indignity of being wanded from tip to toe, or have your favorite souvenir corkscrew confiscated as a potential weapon of mass destruction. Or as Mike found out on a recent flight we made, have 4 sleeves of brand new high dollar golf balls plucked from your bag by person or persons unknown.
Besides, we enjoy each other’s company and actually get a lot of brain-storming, thought organizing, book/chapter outlining, and even sorting of the contents of the Great Amorphous Pile (the euphamism for Mike’s desk) done on road trips. And, it’s admittedly hard to brainstorm outloud on the plane; it disturbs the other passengers.
Our recent trip back to Arkansas for my high school class reunion is a perfect case in point: we flew from Santa Barbara to Phoenix to Dallas and then ended up renting a car in Dallas to drive the 5 hours to Little Rock for a few days of catching up with family and old friends. Then we drove on to Hot Springs for the reunion and then back down to visit the grandangels in Dallas, from whence we flew back to Santa Barbara.
When we head out for a road trip, we stock up with quality snacks–maybe some slices of good salami, cubes of organic cheese, whatever fresh produce we might have left in the kitchen, slices of cucumber, some cherry tomatoes, berries, or cherries, the odd peach or apple, perhaps. And usually we throw in a big bag of natural jerky and some nuts, just in case. You’ve seen what lines the shelves of the quickie marts at gas stations–all carbs, all the time, wrapped in cellophane, with a heapin’ helpin’ of trans fats and God knows what else tossed in for good measure. We stop in those establishments to buy bottled water, a cup of Joe, and gas, squeegie the windshields, use the facilities, and not much beyond that.
Back in June, when we drove to Prescott, Arizona to look over the contents of our warehouse before it migrated north with our assistant, we had plenty of snacks going, but had to stock up for the trip back. We ducked into a Costco down there to get some fresh fruit and nuts and happened upon a great road snack: Mrs. May’s Naturals.
These organic nut cluster treats come in a wide variety of nutty flavors–almond, cashew, peanut, and pumpkin seed among them–and are made with just a hint of sweetness. Be forewarned, the sweetness is real (from organic cane sugar, I think) but there’s just the merest hint of it. The clusters are cut into small approximately one-inch cube-shaped pieces, each of which has about 1 gram of usable carb. And they’re absolutely delicious!
We’d seen and sampled these nut crunches at the Natural Foods Expo West a year or two ago, and I figured sooner or later they’d turn up at our local Lazy Acres or Wild Oats or Whole Foods. I was pleasantly surprised to see them turn up at Costco, available both in the large resealable multi-serving bag and as a tray of maybe a dozen individual small bags in multiple flavors.
One caveat, though: these snacks are so good that–trust me here–unless you’re made of sterner stuff than I am, you’ll want to get the little bags for easier portion control. At the very least, portion individual servings of 7 or 8 pieces out of the big bag into zipper snack bags for your own protection. It would be very easy, indeed, when trapped in the car headed down the lonesome highway, to consume a generous portion of the large bag before you could blink. And even at just 1 gram a square, if you gobble down 30 or 40 of those babies at a sitting, the carbs (not to mention the calories) will add up fast. And we all know that when the carbs and calories go up, a whole lot of other things go up, too!
One small bag, tucked into your purse, would work as a great popcorn avoidance maneuver at the movies. They’d also make a nutritious lunch or after school snack for kids, even if they’re not nuts about nuts. And how else, I ask, would you be able to get them to eat pumpkin seeds?